pumpkin carving tools
Credit: Bryan Gardner

12 Pumpkin Carving Tools for the Perfect Jack-O'-Lantern

For a pumpkin with panache—or a big, toothy grin—it's important to reach for the right tools and wield them wisely. You'll likely find some of these supplies in your kitchen drawer or tool kit; a trip to an art supply, hardware, or housewares store will yield the rest.
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Once you've found a smooth, symmetrical pumpkin, creating the perfect carved jack-o'-lantern becomes all about the tools. Look beyond the knife drawer to implements intended for other uses, like a melon baller, power drill, or keyhole saw.

Before carving, first decide how you are going to light your pumpkin. For a candle, you'll want to carve your hole in the top of the pumpkin so that the lid can be removed; for LED battery-powered lights, your first cut should be a circle from the bottom of the pumpkin.

You will find that each tool handles a different part of the carving process. Use a keyhole saw to make the initial cut into the pumpkin. Use a fleshing tool for removing the pulp and seeds, and to thin the pumpkin's walls (this allows more light to come through your design). Then, you can use a variety of tools—many of which are found at your local arts and crafts store—to carve in the details. Use a needle tool to transfer a design template to the surface of your pumpkin, which makes it easy to carve the perfect scary face. Use cookie cutters for decorative cutouts, or a melon baller to scoop out perfectly circular indentations.

To start, download and print one of our templates. They are designed to help you master the technique, providing both a certain amount of guidance and the room for creative freedom. Tape your chosen design to the pumpkin, and start to etch, carve, and even drill in the details. More elaborate pumpkin carvings will also take more time and attention than simplified designs. But having the right tools on hand helps to make your pumpkin masterpieces with expert precision.

Shop the Best Pumpkin Carving Tools:

pumpkin carving tool keyhole saw
Credit: Harima

Woodcraft Harima Keyhole Saw

$21.99, woodcraft.com

The sharp teeth on this saw can slice through a pumpkin's tough shell. Plus, its flexible blade allows for curved cuts on the jack-o'-lantern.

pumpkin carving fleshing tool
Credit: Kemper Tools

Kemper Tools "FT453" Fleshing Tool

$6.69, shop.ceramicsupplyinc.com

Sculpting tools, such as large plaster scrapers and smaller fleshing tools, remove pulp and thin a pumpkin's walls. The serrated loop on this tool easily scrapes away the flesh, allowing light to shine through.

pumpkin carving tool linoleum cutter
Credit: Speedball

Speedball Lino Set "#40203-1009 No. 1" Linoleum Cutter

from $3.89, dickblick.com

This item is used to carve detail into the surface of a pumpkin with great accuracy. Make a skin-deep outline and pattern with V- and U-shaped blades in a few sizes.

pumpkin carving tool hole cutter
Credit: Kemper

Kemper Tools Hole Cutter

from $5.35, dickblick.com

These are polished wood and steel hole cutters are often used by potters to create holes in clay. However, these sharp pipes with a sharp end and a capped one will work well on pumpkins, too, for easy carving.

x-acto knife
Credit: Courtesy of Office Depot

X-Acto Knife Blade

$7.49, officedepot.com

The thin, sturdy blades on these saws are perfect for carving irregular shapes. It also comes with a cap for safety when you're not using it.

pumpkin carving took gouge
Credit: Pfiel

PFEIL "Swiss Made" Gouge No. 7

$33.99, woodcraft.com

Create strips in the shell of the pumpkin using this carpentry tool. The hardwood handle can easily fit in your hand to allow you to carve the design you desire as precisely as possible.  

cut off needle hardwood handle
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Kemper PNH-X Heavy Duty Cut-Off Needle With Hardwood Handle

$6.16, amazon.com

Round up this 5-inch tool when getting started with your carving. This heavy-duty needle is best to help cut off uneven parts of the pumpkin when carving out your jack-o'-lantern. 

awl
Credit: Courtesy of Dick Blick Art Materials

Lineco Awl

from $4.72, dickblick.com

If you're worried about your hand slipping when trying to create a design on your pumpkin, you'll want to use this awl. It is stainless steel with a curved head, and the ribbed body makes it easy to grip. 

T pins
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Dritz 100 T Pins

$7.25, amazon.com

These are good for transferring designs from paper to a pumpkin. For instance, a monogram is created by taping a template to the rind, and tracing it by poking holes with the sharp pins.

cookie cutters
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Dadam Star Cookie Cutters Set

$7.99, amazon.com

These common baking tools can make uncommon designs: crescent moons, stars, skulls, and other Halloween motifs. Tap a cookie cutter with a rubber mallet to penetrate the rind of the pumpkin.

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Melon Baller
Credit: Courtesy of Bed Bath & Beyond

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Melon Baller

$11.99, bedbathandbeyond.com

Traditional kitchen tools such as a melon baller can carve spherical chunks out of the shell of a pumpkin. These depressions will glow when light shines through them.

pumpkin carving took power drill
Credit: Black + Decker

Black + Decker 20-Volt MAX Lithium-Ion Cordless Drill

$59, homedepot.com

This heavy-duty tool makes it fast and easy to create small holes for accents or patterns. It can hold charge for up to 18 months, so you won't have to worry about delays in your creation process as you work on your pumpkin.